BUFFALO GROVE — Great defense has been synonymous with the Buffalo Grove softball team this season.
It’s an attribute the team possesses almost out of necessity, because although the Bison have plenty of glove work and pitching, runs have sometimes been tough to come by.
Sophomore shortstop Dea Barton and senior catcher Amanda Salzman have been the standouts for coach Jamie Paul, who is quick to heap praise on them but also acknowledges the strong play of everyone on her team.
“Dea and Amanda do a great job, and (sophomore pitcher) Julia (Camardo) does an amazing job,” Paul said. “It’s almost every day that they do a great job. … Although those three deserve the attention, it’s a team effort every game.”
For Buffalo Grove, which has a propensity to toe the line between perfection and disaster, every game is a pressure cooker. Players like Barton and Salzman — the rock-solid defensive studs — have gotten used to perfection being part of the job description.
“I think there is some pressure on us not to make mistakes,” said Salzman, whose team was 8-5 through its first 13 games this season. “But we put extra pressure on ourselves to make every play. All in all, we know how to make the plays so we’re confident that we can.
“As a team, we’re a defensive team. Recently, we’ve done a great job scoring some runs. We put up 15 runs in a couple games. In other games, we’ve struggled and have needed to rely on defense. Our defense can kind of fuel the offense when we’re not hitting.”
In a 2-0 loss to high-scoring Barrington Monday, Barton stopped just about everything on defense.
She grabbed the sky-high pop-ups that swirled around above her head in the spring wind and the skipping grounders up the middle that bounced low and fast and tried their hardest to avoid being captured. But in the fifth inning, a routine grounder to Barton’s right ricocheted off her glove and trickled into the outfield, allowing a runner on second to score.
The error was the only blemish of the game for Barton, whose defense helped Buffalo Grove cling to the game by the tips of its fingernails. But it’s likely the only moment she’ll remember.
“I was definitely disappointed,” Barton said. “I just didn’t watch it all the way and it just hit off the side of my mitt. I was upset, but I knew I had to come up from it and hopefully, the next ball I would get.
“It’s always hard when you make an error. … It’s something I’ll remember, and it will make me better next time.”